News

Link with China to boost genetic research

Research in the growing field of genomics will be boosted by an initiative that brings together scientific expertise from China and Edinburgh.

A memorandum of understanding signed between the University of Edinburgh and BGI, the world’s largest genomics organisation, will aim to build on both institutions’ strengths in genomics.

It will aim to enhance researchers’ scientific understanding of the building blocks with which people and other living organisms are made.

This is a fantastic opportunity. Edinburgh is already a hotbed of expertise in genomics and DNA sequencing, and a partnership with BGI would allow us to expand our work into clinical research and, ultimately, personalised genomics.

Professor Mark BlaxterDirector of the Gene Pool Facility, School of Biological Sciences

Genomics

Bioinformatics is a key part of the new science: the impact of genomics is limited by our ability to analyse the data, so the concept of combining our existing bioinformatics expertise with that of BGI is very exciting.

Mick WatsonDirector of The Roslin Institute's ARK Genomics facility

The partnership will lead to an expansion of genomics research in Edinburgh, including analysing hereditary information encoded in our DNA.

This could help assess risks for particular diseases.

It comes at a time of increasing interest in how better understanding of genes, through DNA sequencing facilities, will help to develop personalised medicines.

Genomics also plays an important role in looking at how livestock can be bred with resistance to diseases to help produce food sustainably for a growing global population.

Key facilities

The agreement between the University of Edinburgh and BGI will explore how research at three genomics facilities in Edinburgh could be enhanced through collaboration with BGI.

We appreciate this great opportunity to bring our extensive genomics experience in this collaboration. I believe we could make more scientific breakthroughs in human health, animal science and evolution as well as other innovative research fields.

Ning LiDirector of BGI Europe

The facilities are the GenePool Genomics Facility in the School of Biological Sciences, ARK Genomics at The Roslin Institute and the Genetics Core at the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility and the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine.

BGI

As one of the world’s largest genomics organisations, BGI has developed an integrative structure of research innovation, platform development and industrial application.

BGI is actively building links with research leaders all over the world, with the aim of promoting the advancement of innovative biology research, molecular breeding, healthcare and related fields.

Livestock genetic improvement is a key part of our response to the challenge of food security, and sequencing and informatics are crucial to future progress. This initiative will underpin Scotland’s world-leading research in animal sciences.

Professor David HumeDirector of The Roslin Institute

This opportunity will keep Edinburgh and Scotland at the very leading edge of all aspects of medical genomics, from rare forms of inherited disease through to major causes of ill health over the life course and in ageing. It will be a crucial bridge between our world leading academic research and the needs of the NHS.”

Professor David PorteousDirector of Genetics Core at the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility and of Systems Medicine at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine